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Nevermore

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'Take thy beak from out my heart,
And take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

The famed, horror writer Edgar Allan Poe decides to visit his childhood friend who is selling the family home. There are a lot of memories in the massive mansion where the two and Monty's sister Lenore (Chloe White) have shared. Edgar is welcomed by the crusty groundskeeper Dudley (William Knight). He tells Edgar that he believes Lenore is dead. Even though she sends Monty postcards from her trips overseas, they always arrive two to three months late. So, no one really knows where Lenore can truly be found. Edgar always had an overt crush on Monty's little sister. He is taken aback on what Dudley tells him.

Edgar decides to do some investigating beginning with Monty. Monty shoos Edgar away with his nonsensical theories. He offers him a glass of whiskey to calm his nerves. And another and another until the entire bottle is empty. A drink is the last thing the horror writer needs. He's been drinking since he arrived at the mansion and his terrorized by his own paranoia and fear of spiders. Edgar tries, unsuccessfully, to hold on to what little sanity he has but slowly descends into madness. He begins to hallucinate in seeing Lenore and cries out for her.

Director/playwright Matt Ritchey, a graduate of the prestigious NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, seems to have written "Nevermore" as a composite of Poe's work. He mentions one of his Poe's well-known story "The Pit and the Pendulum," and the casually mentioned "The Tale Tell Heart" and weaves in other Poeisms.  Actor Joseph Gilbert does an exciting job as Edgar. He mimics the writer's fumbling nature, his deep insecurity and playful spirit when the need arises.

Briton Green plays his BFF Monty. He adores, or seemingly adores, his best friend, but there's something about him that says conniver. I'm just saying! Once you put all of the elements together; you have a recipe for a Poetic story. There is the creepy gardener,  the secretive best friend, the attorney Catherwood (the hysterical Steve Peterson) who comes in all hours of the night and the missing sister who may or may not be dead. Whiskey, anyone? Preferably, in a tall hi-ball glass. Now we see that Poe's attempt of liquid courage is understandable.

What makes this wonderful play work so smoothly and is always on point are the characters and the marvelous writing. Ritchey's writing flows without missing any beats. How refreshing! Even though he's only on stage for a few moments, Steve Peterson is memorable as Catherwood the attorney. A lanky, intelligent man spewing out savory jokes and righteous legalese. The best part is how the focus is on Lenore whose only appearance is a self portrait above the fireplace. At first glance, Poe becomes instantly smitten and almost loses the power of  speech. Her beautiful yet haunting appearance sets the tone of the play.

Richey has the touch of putting our fears out in the open and see what the hell happens. If you want to the take the experience home, you can buy the soundtrack at the theater written by Ritchy and Patrick Emswiler. It's the last song "TellTaleFinale" that is both haunting and infectious. Anyone listening will definitely be transported back to that menacing mansion and absorb Poe's feelings --both imagined and real.

"Nevermore" runs Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. until Saturday, February 5 at The El Centro Theatre located at 804 N. El Centro in Los Angeles. Reserve online at www.plays411.com/nevermore or call (323) 960-1055.

 

Spotlight

Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”

ABOUT ELLEN RICHARD

Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.